What Benefits does Organic Food Deliver in 2021?
What Benefits does organic food deliver in 2021?
It’s September which means it is Organic Awareness Month!
It’s become a huge UK market worth £2.8 bn in 2020 with a 12% increase over the previous year. And this occurred even with Covid uncertainties, furlough and lockdowns.
If people are grasping the importance of personal responsibility for health and wellbeing, just what benefits does organic food deliver to our health? I’ve delved into some of the research to give you some up to date facts in 2021.
No time to read? Watch my latest video on Organic Food, simply click on the video to watch. You can also listen or download the podcast version while on the go. (link below)
What exactly is organic food?
It’s the growth, production, storage and transport of food without the use of manmade chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, growth regulators and additives to livestock feed.
It also avoids the use of genetically modified ingredients of foods fed to livestock.
The Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that:
Organic agriculture is a systems approach to production that is working towards environmentally, socially and economically sustainable production. Instead, the agricultural systems rely on crop rotation, animal and plant manures, some hand weeding and biological pest control’.
Choosing organic now extends beyond the health benefit to us humans but to the environment, climate change and animal welfare issues too.
Four Recognised Health Benefits
Chemical production has increased 50 fold since 1950. And it is estimated that there have been 140,000 new chemicals created in this timeframe too! If you’re interested in reading further, there is some staggering information and worrying statistics in this 2019 UK Parliament report:
Of course not all these chemicals are in our food. But it’s beyond doubt that we have a real chemical burden through the food we eat, chemicals we inhale, use on our skin, in cleaning. And in just about every aspect of our health. Anything we can do to decrease that burden is beneficial.
Our liver is the organ of detoxification. It undertakes a complex two phase process to neutralise toxins so that they can be eliminated safely from the body.
All these additional chemicals that we find in our food require detoxifying by the liver. This places a huge burden on the liver that can inhibit it from effectively performing its other important roles, such as metabolising female hormones.
Some fruits have 75% higher pesticide levels compared to organic ones. Some vegetables have 32% higher pesticide levels.
Increased liver toxicity also places an additional burden on all our eliminatory organs (bowels, lungs, kidneys, skin). Since the skin is an organ of elimination, it may suffer with rashes, spots or could eczema be attributable to toxicity in the body?
Research has shown an increased level in antioxidants in fruit and vegetables by as much as 60%. This is equivalent to 2 pieces of fruit or vegetables each day.
Antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage that could over time cause cancer if not made safe.
Soils have become depleted in key minerals due to heavy farming practices. Organic practices allow the soils to return minerals to the soil.
Looking at mineral levels between 1930 and 1980, calcium levels in non organic vegetables have declined by 46%, copper by 76%, sodium by 49%, iron by 27% and magnesium by 24%. These are significant reductions! No wonder I frequently recommend good quality multi-nutrients to my clients. Our diets today can rarely meet the nutritional status of our parents.
Milk, Dairy and Meat
Organic milk has higher levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids and up to 60% higher levels of the key fats EPA and DHA. These essential fats are anti-inflammatory to the body, cardio protective and support brain health. And so much more. One reason is due to cows being mostly grass fed rather than on grains.
Dairy also has higher levels of iron. It was found to have lower levels of iodine- an important mineral for the thyroid gland – and organic feed is now fortified with iodine.
Like dairy, organic meat has up to 47% higher levels of Omega 3 fats and lower levels of saturated fats. So the fat ratio is more desirable. Whilst our optimum source of Omega 3 essential fats like EPA and DHA come mostly from oily fish, organic meat does at least deliver some of these important fats especially for those who don’t like the taste of oily fish.
Cadmium is a highly toxic metal to humans. Organic crops were found to have 50% less cadmium than non-organic. Cadmium is known to displace zinc potentially leading to a nutrient deficiency. Zinc is essential for our immunity, skin health, prostate health and fertility.
Does it have to be organic? I’m concerned about the cost.
Organic is likely to cost 10-20% more. This can be prohibitive especially for lower incomes and those people with families to feed. So where should you start?
Start by thoroughly washing your fruit and vegetables in water. This will help to lower the chemical burden.
I always recommend that your starting point for buying organic should be to review the Environmental Working Group’s annual review of the cleanest and dirtiest foods. And then focus your attention to source organic for the Dirty Dozen!
This year (2021) you should be buying organic:
Strawberries, Spinach, Kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, cherries, peaches, pears, peppers, celery and tomatoes. A single sample of Kale had residues of 20 different pesticides!
Grow your own
This past year has been a perfect time to start to grow our own vegetables. So many people – including myself- have started to experiment with “growing our own” through the various lockdowns and taking less holidays. You don’t have to have an extensive garden. A small plot, using pots on a patio or small ones on a window sill all count. Just start somewhere and see where it leads. And you could join up with neighbours to grow different crops that you can share.
Choosing a more organic lifestyle- with some organic foods- should be part and parcel of a healthier way of life.
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Keep your eye out for more articles and Peyton Principles in the media.
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